Basic Chord Theory IV

author: CPDmusic date: 08/17/2010 category: chords
rating: 9.7 / votes: 40 
Intro: Hello, and welcome to the fourth and final instalment of the Basic Chord Theory series. In part four, we will wrap up by looking at suspended chords, as well as learning the basics of chord inversions. Enjoy! Suspended Chords: The first thing we will look at today is suspended chords. To start, there are two main types of suspended chords, a suspended second chord, and a suspended fourth chord. Both these types of chords alter the base chord slightly. To get more insight on suspended chords, it's probably best to look at some example, which is what we will do! The Suspended Second Chord: Lets start off with the suspended second chord. Like all the other chords we have learned, this chord can be expressed in a numerical sequence: 1 2 5 So, lets use this sequence to construct a Csus2 chord, starting on C:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
Next, we would add the second note of the C major scale, being D:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||--0----||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
And then finally, we would add the fifth note of the C major, G:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||--0----||
D||--0----||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
And that's a Csus2! Now as you know, you can change around the order of the notes and get the same chord, so why don't you experiment with that. For example, I play my Csus2 many ways, one being C D C D G, which is played like this:
E||--3----||
B||--3----||
G||--5----||
D||--0----||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
Play it however you feel comfortable. We will discuss this chord more later. I think it would be helpful if we also new the suspended fourth chord, so we can reflect on suspended chords in their entirety. The Suspended Fourth: The suspended fourth is very similar to the suspended second. It follows this pattern: 1 4 5 So, lets now construct a Csus4, starting with C:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
Next, we would add the fourth note of the C major scale, F:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||--3----||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
And finally, the fifth note of the C major, G:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||--0----||
D||--3----||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
So, there is your basic Csus4! Once again, try experimenting with different ordering. Luckily, the Csus4 is a pretty versatile chord, so you could simply just play it C F G C F, and get this:
E||--1----||
B||--1----||
G||--0----||
D||--3----||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
Suspended Chords pt. 2: Now that we understand how to play the two main types of suspended chords, lets discuss them. What you should notice is that a suspended chord is just a major chord, with a replaced third. In the suspended SECOND chord, the third is replaced by a SECOND, while in the suspended FOURTH chord, the third is replaced by a FOURTH. Do you see the pattern? Now, suspension can be added to any chord. For example, a C7sus2 would be 1 2 5 b7, while a C7sus4 would be 1 4 5 b7. One exception is that there is technically no such thing as a minor chord with a suspension. Why? Well, lets try and figure out what a minor suspended chord will be. We know a minor chord is: 1 b3 5 And we know that suspended chords replace the third with another note. So, to get a suspended second, we would replace the third in this chord with a second, to get: 1 2 5 Which is exactly the same as the major with a suspended second. So, just for simplicity, we stick with Csus2. Chord Inversions: The final thing we need to look at is chord inversions. Don't worry, we don't need to learn any new numerical sequences. Chord inversions are just altering the chords we already know. Remember how I said when rearranging the order of notes in a chord, you must keep the root the same. Well, I lied. I said that so I don't confuse you early on. But know, with your knowledge of chords, you are ready to learn about the chord inversion. Chord inversions are actually really easy. Lets say we had a C major chord: C E G So, there it is, as standard C major triad. But, how do you invert it? Well this chord has two inversions. The first inversion of this chord is this: E G C Notice how now the first note is E, while the other two are G and C (you can change the order if you wish to E C G, just like you would change the order of any other chord). This is a C chord, first inversion. You might see it written multiple ways, such as Calt, or C/E. How do you determine this is first inversion? Well, lets look back at the standard C major: C E G Notice how the E is the first note from the C? Well, if we make that E the root: E G C Than we would have what we already know is C/E. In the original chord, the E was the FIRST note from the C, making this chord C major, FIRST inversion. Now, the second inversion is very similar. It goes like this: G C E Notice how now the root note is G. In the standard C major chord, G was the SECOND note from C, making this note C major SECOND inversion. Also, chords can have more than two inversions, depending on how many different notes are in the chord. For example, lets look at a C7 chord: C E G Bb Now, we know that first inversion would be this: E G Bb C And second inversion would be this: G Bb C E But, this chord has four notes, meaning we could make a third inversion. Bb is the third note from the root, C, meaning if we made Bb the root, we would have C7 third inversion, or C7/Bb. Bb C E G Using this knowledge, we can determine that a thirteenth chord has six different inversions! So, there you have it, you now know chord inversions! But, one final question remains Why Use Inversions? You are probably asking yourself what's the point? Why not just play the chord normally. Well, this is a lesson in itself, which I will be sure to write later. The reason people use inversions is because of the voicing's of the chords. With inversions, one can hold a melody, while following the standard chords of that key. Confused? Don't worry, I'll write about voicing's later. The Table Of Chords! Well, it's time to add the final chords to our table of chords. M = 1 3 5 m = 1 b3 5 Aug = 1 3 #5 Dim = 1 b3 b5 7 = 1 3 5 b7 7M = 1 3 5 7 m7 = 1 b3 5 b7 m7M = 1 b3 5 7 Add9 = 1 3 5 9 9 = 1 3 5 b7 9 Add11 = 1 3 5 11 11 = 1 3 5 b7 9 11 Add13 = 1 3 5 13 Sus2 = 1 2 5 Sus4 = 1 4 5 7sus2 = 1 2 5 b7 7sus4 = 1 4 5 b7 7Msus2 = 1 2 5 7 7Msus4 = 1 4 5 7 I only added a couple suspended chords to this list, but feel free to add suspensions to any chord you want. Now, if you look at this table, you see 19 chords. But don't be intimidated! Remember, all these chords can be traced back to the Major chord somehow, so really, it's the only one you need to memorize. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, most of these chord names are self-explanatory. Look for the patterns, it will immensely help you. Don't think of it as memorization, think of it almost as reading. When you read suspended second, don't say 1 2 5, say major chord with a second instead of a third. It will make it easier when you have 19 chords to deal with. Outro: So, that's it for both this lesson, and the entire series on Basic Chord Theory. But, don't forget this! We will look back on it in future lessons! So, I guess my job here is done. Remember your table of chords (print it out if you want to!), and remember chord inversions, because all those things will expand your general knowledge of music. Goodbye! Did You Like This Lesson? Check Out All My Lessons Here More Lessons Coming Soon!
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